Jul 30, 2017
by Tre Gibbs
Get ready for the Total Solar Eclypse! On Monday August 21st, beginning around 9:30 am, the moon – slowly moving eastward – will begin to move in front of the sun and almost completely block it out. In fact, from our location here in Northern California, a little more than 80%of the sun’s disk will be covered, while in Northern Oregon, 100% of the sun will be covered. Though our friends in Southern California will only see about 70% of the sun’s disk blocked. While solar eclipses are not very rare events (they happen more often than presidential elections) the path of totality traveling across the United States is rare. In fact, the last time the U.S. saw a total solar eclipse was back in February of 1979, so this will be a rare treat for all of us. Expect the daylight to dim noticeably – creating an eerie light for about 30minutes or so. By 11:30 am the moon will begin to move beyond the disk of the sun and everything willgo back to normal.
Take the time to find and purchase some solar eclipse glasses since it’s the only way to view this spectacle with your eyes. Never, I repeatnever look at the sun directly, even during an eclipse. Just a sliver of the sun’s bright light can permanently damage your retina. Be safe - use specially designed glasses for viewing (amazon.com). The next Total Solar Eclipse after this one isn’t until 2024, and that one happens over the southern and eastern part of the U.S. We’ll have to wait until August of 2045 to see one travel across California again...
Saturn is currently the prominent planet this month, appearing somewhat high in the south just after sunset. Although it’s so far away from us, it’s rather difficult to spot, since it looks like just one of the other thousands of “stars” in the night sky, but thanks to the moon (which travels the same path in the sky as the planets), we can easily locate Saturn. On the night of August 3rd, look for the moon slightly above and to the right of Saturn. Then about 26 days later, the moon will return to almost the same spot, slightly above and to the right of Saturn.
Jupiter has been the prominent light in the sky for several months up till now, but the Roman King of the Gods is slowly departing our evening skies as he heads towards the glare of the sun. If you have an unobstructed view of the western horizon, look for Jupiter paired with the moon, low in the west on the evening of the 24th.
Venus puts on a show of her own for the early morning risers! All month long, Venus appears low in the east just prior to sunrise.You can’t miss Venus – it’s the third brightest object in the sky (after the sun and moon). So incredibly bright, it can even cast a shadow if you’re in a dark location. So, enjoy the eclipse on Monday morning, August 21st beginning around 9:30 am – enjoy it safely – with appropriate eyewear. And as always, keep looking up!
See How the Solar Eclipse Will Look From Anywhere in the U.S.: http://time.com/4882923/total-solar-eclipse-map-places-view/
What to Expect When Viewing the Eclipse: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6926
NASA Announces Television Coverage for Aug. 21 Solar Eclipse: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6921
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